Nepal Trip 2016
See below a “diary” and photos from our members trekking in Nepal
We arrive at last on Friday (11 March) at 16.30 to be met by Abhi at the airport. The flight was good but long and tiring. The group enjoyed a very interesting trip through the streets of Kathmandu, cars, bikes, buses, cows coming from all direction. After 40 minutes we arrived at the haven, our hotel. Beautiful hotel with lovely gardens, renovated after the earth quake. We had our evening meal and a briefing meeting and then went out to a local bar, led by Abhi. Some stayed late and some were too tired and left early.
In the morning we had a great breakfast, fill your boots time. At 9am we left for the airport to Pokhara. The plane was 2 hours delayed but in true guiding spirit we sat on the floor in a group and made the most of our time people watching and chatting to travellers. Heather met someone who had been to Pateley Bridge! Most went to sleep on the plane but were woken up quickly by a big thump; landing. The airport was really quaint with basically a glamorous hut as baggage claim. The Nepalese take pride in their public spaces, the garden was beautiful. With luggage loaded into the minibus it was just a short drive to the hotel, again another very pleasant surprise. This time it was only 10 minutes from the airport. Pokhara is a quiet city built around a lake. It is less manic
than Kathmandu and more manageable. Kathmandu is crazy. We spent an afternoon in small groups, shopping trips on the lake, or just sitting in the sun.. Now we are sat outside having just had a super dinner wondering what the trek has in store for us. The adventure starts tomorrow at 7 am. We then have a bumpy ride in old buses to the start of our trek…
Sat in a tea house, no one can hear anything due to the hail on the tin roof. Today we had a scary bus ride for an hour and a half and then started the trek by walking along the river. Then we climbed 1300 meters. It started raining about 2 hours ago, it’s even heavier than our practice walks. We are just 30 minutes from the camp site but no one wants to go in this rain.
Well what can I say about today… The morning started of quite chilly but we had a lovely
breakfast outside, the porters took down the tents and bundled everything up to take to the next camp site. We set of in waterproofs as it was spitting and during the day changed from those to shorts and shirts and back again depending on the weather. We walked up hill all day through jungle and then through woods similar to those in England with violets and primulas. Lunch stop was near a stream, it was amazing. We had fried potatoes, salad, cooked veg, rice and chocolate pastries, tea, coffee and fruit… They do all this before we get to them and we just get it served to us…. Fabulous.
After lunch more up hill but not for too long which is a good job as the rain started….then the hail…and it turned really cold. The last bit of the walk was on amazing edge with shear drops down both sides, which were disguised by the fog. We arrived at camp all set up for us. This was Tarahill top, with the most amazing 360 degree view from the top…or so Ann tells us ….all we could see was fog and then the snow started…. What do you expect when a bunch of guiders go anywhere, we can’t have good weather can we? We are now in the mess tent with snow around us and as I type this the rest of the group are singing songs to Andy on his ukulele while waiting for our tea. Oh no it must be time to go as they have started on kumbayah and Pizza Hut! And tea is ready… We are eating tea at 2800 meters in the snow… How many other people can say that.
So grateful for this experience. But we would love some amazing weather.
Caroline on behalf of the group
Tuesday day 3 of our Trek …. It was a cold night, about -8, but lucky it wasn’t windy on Tara Top. 5.50 am and we all got woken up by our icy tents being rattled, but it was worth as we all made our way outside all you could hear was the wows! What a sight words can’t describe the magnificent panoramic views, we were surrounded by mountains of the Annapurna range, the one that stuck of the most was Fish Tail it was towering above Annapurna 1. As the sun came up the snow began to melt but the clouds soon arrived and started to spoil our view but the camera were at the ready we managed to get some amazing shots including a group picture with all the porters.
Breakfast was al fresco it gave us all time to reflect on how lucky we all were again to be in the amazing place, with amazing people and the incredible views. 9.10 am everything was packed away and we began to make our way down hill trough the Jungle passing Rhododendron, Magnolias, Orchids, Gentian, edelweiss and many more. We were even followed by our camp dog, after 4 hours of walking down steps of all sizes we made to our camp site. Lunch was soon served, we now have a free afternoon some of us are enjoying the sunshine and Caroline has even been with a run with Sheba.
Our fourth day of trekking started with a heart breaking descent to the base of the huge mountain opposite the campsite in order to begin the very long ascent. We passed through a beautiful village and paused to watch baby goats herded past us, a lady chopping turmeric and school children playing in the dusty playground who shouted “namaste” as we passed. The locals took great interest in us too and paused to watch us pass them. Many were herding cows, children chewing on sugar cane and ladies hanging out washing. A motorbike pulled up alongside us and it turned out this was a mobile shop which the locals used to buy chocolate and other goods they could not produce on the mountainside.
We were soon faced with a wobbly wooden suspension bridge and each passed over the river one by one. Our doggie companion who has been following us for two days needed a bit of encouragement from Deryk to cross over! We ascended the hill in the 36 degree heat and were helped up the ridge by the Sherpas as it was extremely steep (almost vertical) with sheer drops at either side! Following us were two local ladies who we bought drinks and biscuits from to give us extra energy. We paused for lunch under a large tree and were served toasties to our shock and awe. Harry the cook surpassed himself again! We have no idea how he can make toasties half way up a mountain on an open fire. True to the wonderfully kind nature of the Nepalis it was no surprise that the two village ladies and our doggie companion were also served some lunch. We have learnt very quickly how generous and considerate Nepalis are.
The walk continued to our campsite via a farm where Cassie could not resist picking up the farmers very cute little puppy! We had been climbing for over 4.5 hours in the heat (now 25 degrees) and our spirits were kept up by the wonderful Sherpas and many renditions of Frank Sinatra classics. Finally, we rounded the corner to the campsite where we all froze in complete wonder at the stunning Fishtail mountain providing the backdrop to the campsite. We were lost for words as the sun shone on Fishtail, Annapurna 2,3 and 4 in the distance (which does not seem so far away due to their size!) We were glad to rest and before lunch the porters built us a fabulous campfire. We all sat around the fire with the porters and took it in turns to sing Guiding and Nepali songs. In true Guiding spirit Ann opened a large packet of marshmallows and one of our Sherpas cut bamboo skewers. We offered a marshmallow to the porters and we soon realised they had no idea what the toasted marshmallows were. Their faces lit up as they bit in to the American sized giant marshmallows and we soon had toasted the whole bag for all the Sherpas, porters and kitchen team. It was a true highlight of the trip to see the trek crew enjoy something so much that we take for granted, many were covered in the sticky marshmallow and found the whole experience hilarious. After a few more songs accompanied by the ukulele’s we headed in to the big tent for dinner. For main course we were treated to Mo Mo’s which are Nepali pastry parcels filled with vegetables and spices. A long day tomorrow so we spent another hour by the fire before heading to bed 2600m high.
We woke up to a beautiful view of the mountains surrounding camp so yet more photos were taken. Even though we were 30 minutes late setting off we were still earlier than the other days ready to face the long walk ahead. Starting off in glorious sunshine we walked along the ridge with stunning scenery on both sides. To the north of us the snowy mountains towered majestically and to the south the valley looked a long way down. Gradually we entered the jungle with pretty primroses poking out of crevices. The path was steep and rocky in places but always interesting and slowly we headed past the tree line. Cassie was leading the way with Pan (today’s lead guide) using his machete to clear the path of overhanging branches. Small patches of snow turned into larger areas and there was a noticeable drop in the temperature so time to put on extra layers.
After a bit of a pep talk by Ann and Isswor we continued up the hill and into the descending mist. Everyone was ecstatic to reach the summit of 3300 meters even though we could not see more than a few meters in front of us. It had taken about 5 hours. For the group photos our purple t-shirts were worn over the top of waterproofs as it was too cold to strip off! The guides whipped out a fantastic picnic packed lunch for each of us: Nepali bread with salami, chunk of cheese, boiled egg, apple and carton of mango juice. The guides passed round a celebratory local drink of fermented millet, which was met with varying opinions. Now it was time to start the long descent back to camp. Part way down we were met by Hari, some of his team and Panting the dog. Much to our pleasure they were waiting with hot lemon juice and supplies of extra drinking water. This helped to keep us going for the last couple of hours.
Tonight’s tea was amazing; veg soup with popcorn for starters then pizza(!), spicy veg noodles, boiled veg and pakoras with apple pie and custard for dessert. How Hari and his team create these dishes on an open fire and a gas burner is unbelievable.
The evening finished sat chatting round the glowing campfire again.
Today dawned clear and sunny and as we emerged from out tents refreshed from a good
night’s sleep we were greeted by yet another splendid view of Fishtail and the other Annapurna mountains. We ate breakfast of apple porridge and cheese omelette while watching a lammergeier falcon circling above us. The trek crew held up the prayer flag which we had all decorated so we could take photos then they strung it over the path leading to yesterday’s walk.
As the crew were packing up camp, some of us tried on one of their loads which are carried suspended from a band over the forehead which gave us even more admiration for them, especially as we see them almost running past us with huge loads on the mountain tracks. We set off on today’s walk down the hill in hot sun, with great views of previous days’ walks. Lunch was in a cardamom farmer’s hut perched on the end of a ridge with fantastic views. Afterwards he showed us the field where they grow the new cardamom plants protected by bamboo plants.
We set off again down a wide, gently sloping track through a terraced elm forest which shelters the older cardamom plants, the pods are a valuable cash crop. We arrived at our camp site mid afternoon, to find we are sleeping on the village volleyball pitch. Tibetan refugees arrived to sell us their handicrafts then Sheba, one of the trek guides took us round the village. Each house has a small vegetable garden, a cow shelter and chickens running loose. Bamboo is woven to make matting for roofs, garden fences, floor matting and chicken coops. Mother hens are in little skeps with their chicks. We saw the communal treadle operated rice mill, beehives which are in the walls of the house, a man peeling turmeric with a sickle as well as a satellite dish and a solar panel. We were invited into a house, with a wood fire which hasn’t gone out since it was built. It was very dark as there were no windows to keep the house warm. Shaun impressed the villagers by talking to them in Nepali. Children were playing jacks with pebbles with great skill and speed on the village meeting point next to our camp, a stone platform built around two trees. Caroline then taught them clapping games. Yet another special day in a very special place.
On Friday, 18 March: The last day of the trek was down and down again. We had to concentrate hard so that we didn’t fall. We stopped in the village where we got given flowers and our face was painted, this is for good luck. Last night the villagers came up to our camp site and danced for us. We all joined in. We got down to the river and crossed a bridge followed the river until we came to a hot spring. Some of the group went in, after we crossed another bridge to our lunch stop and a welcome by the porters because our trek was over. We had another scary bus journey back to Pokhara travelling through villages on narrow roads with steep drops on both sides. We made it back to Pokhara very tired but very proud of each other for what we had just achieved.. Everyone of us in the group played a very important part, perhaps they didn’t know that… But it was because we were a team that we succeeded. We climbed 4740 met, 15800 feet, over the trek.
An overnight stay in Pokhara and then fly back to Kathmandu. When we arrived we left the bags at the hotel and jumped on another bus to go to the old city. We saw here the devastation from the earth quake and also Prince Harry. The old Temples and the beautiful wood carvings were beautiful. Back to the hotel for another wonderful meal.
Today is Monday and the sun is shining again. The group, apart from me (Ann), set off to fly around Everest. They have just got back saying it was a trip of a life time. They left the hotel at 6am. When they got to the airport it was closed due to Harry flying off to Pokhara. At 10 we are off for more sight seeing, monkey temple and other things.
4.30 am start in amazing Kathmandu the dawn breaking as we waited for Buddha airlines flight to Everest, who would ever of thought that the Himalayan mountain range would spread out below us in the beautiful morning sunlight… we were able to almost touch the tip of Sagarmatha (8848 m 29028 ft)…. it was breathtaking and we were almost speechless as one by one we went into the cockpit for another incredible view of these mythical mountains, a truly amazing experience.
It was back to the hotel for a lovely breakfast the whole day tour of the crazy city of Kathmandu. Hare our guide lead us through a maze of small streets and bazaars with the constant tooting of motorbikes, scooters, cars and vans ringing in our ears ‘stay to the left’ shouted Hare ‘single file’ we obeyed like good guiders and reached our bus safely.
Our first stop was Swayambhunath temple known as monkey temple… it was fantastic,the cheekiest bunch of macaque monkeys ever entertained us by swimming, fighting and generally creating mayhem, the temple had been badly damaged in last years earthquake but was open and still vibrant a brilliant testament to the lovely Nepalese spirit. The next stop was Dhurbar square, again, the earthquake damage was obvious but still busy and full of life, teeming with tiny shops selling everything from dried spinach to very ugly dried fish!! and other things that we couldn’t even recognise.
Our next visit on our whistle stop tour was a Buddhist temple called Bouddhanath Stupa, a lot of rebuilding going on but after taking our shoes off we went inside and saw beautiful wall paintings and golden sculptures of all the buddhist/Hindu deities.
Our last stop was a huge Hindu temple complex called dashupati, it was vast complex of votive areas, brightly coloured priests and we even go to see open cremations on the riverside , very different and challenging for our western sensibility but intriguing and very thought provoking.death here in Nepal is included in life in a very real way.
Hare, our lovely guide, got us on to our bus and we drove through the choking Kathmandu rush hour traffic to the welcome oasis of our hotel before getting ready for a final celebratory meal to end our last night in Nepal…. what will tomorrow bring?
Today is our last day in Nepal. I in particular treated myself to a lie in then woke to the sound of loud music, shouts and screams. Kristina and I got up and packed all our bags up and just about managed to get the suitcases to close. We attempted to venture out into Kathmandu to be faced with the festival of Holi and lots of people dancing in the streets with bags full of powdered dye and water guns. We lasted all of ten minutes before we gave up on trying to find anywhere open for lunch.
We returned to the hotel and ate some brunch with some nice cool lemon ice tea. After lunch we were prepared. We handed all our electricals to those who chose to stay in the hotel and we went out again, got our own bags of paint and got our own back on the locals. Everyone walks and dances along the streets with handfuls of powder and as the pass they throw it over you or wipe your face with it or cuddle you and wipe it all over wishing you a happy Holi. Everyone is so happy and there is so much going on around us for the celebrations (in amongst all the crazy Kathmandu traffic of course). We were covered head to toe in this amazing colourful powder and loved it. We looked like a rainbow explosion. When we came back to the hotel they gave us some old towels to get showered with and Heather ran away very quickly from a colourful cuddle. After lots of pictures (and one with the hotel manager at his request) we have attempted to get showered which was not easy as the paint stained when it got wet. The colour of the bathroom afterwards….not sure the hotel is pleased with this colourful assault.
We are mostly clean now and chilling in what was a very peaceful inner garden when we first arrived but now is full of the sounds happy people and loud live music from across the street. Still cannot get the paint out of my hair or ears. Not long now just another 3 hours of this paradise before we have to head back to the airport for a very long flight home.